One of the best things about being an… ahem… “mature” Metal fan is finally being over all that anti-trend nonsense. If you’re still on the more idealistic side of twenty-five you might want to skip to the next paragraph, but the cold fact is that Extreme Metal is as vulnerable to fashion as any other kind of Pop music (it’s okay, they’ve already stopped reading), with the same references cropping up in rotation until the trend moves on.
Adorned with underground-cool pencil cover art, Ad Nauseam’s debut album can be explained entirely in terms of names with a lot of cool weight in Metal right now. Combining the dissonant, abstract thundering of Gorguts, Ulcerate’s near-ambient Death Metal soundscapes, the flailing freak-outs of Deathspell Omega and a touch of Portal’s nightmarish otherworldliness, on paper Nihil Quam Vacuitas Ordinatum Est (Lavadome Productions) reads like an essay on “How To Write A Cool Death Metal Album In 2015”. It is also a perfect demonstration of why none of that stuff matters and Metal fans should finally stop caring about whether something is trendy or not, because it is not only a genuinely excellent album, but a truly distinctive one.
There is a genuine sense of both depth and individual voice on the album which raises it above the vast majority of its peers. Refusing to restrict themselves to a single territory, Ad Nauseam are equally comfortable with savage violence, abstract experimentation and doom-laden dissonance, yet never sound as though they’ve lost a sense of what they’re doing. Yes, it’s possible to identify the bits that sound like Gorguts or DSO, but as a whole they mesh together into something entirely itself.
Ad Nauseam have come out of nowhere with some of the most over-used references in modern underground Metal, and used them to assemble what will almost certainly be one of the best Death Metal albums of the year. If you didn’t think there was any space left in your collection for another album that sounds like this, you were objectively wrong. Fill that space immediately.